NRDC Documents Critical Role President Clinton Played in Blocking Anti-Environmental Riders From Spending Bills

Group Urges President-Elect Bush to Oppose Spending Bills Laden with Riders Undermining Air, Land and Water Safeguards

WASHINGTON (December 18, 2000) - If President Clinton had not used his veto authority to block spending bills containing anti-environmental riders, the nation’s air, land and water would have been severely degraded over the last six years, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC called on President-elect George W. Bush to play the same role in his upcoming administration.

"Only the president’s aggressive use of vetoes and veto threats prevented the lion’s share of these stealth attacks from succeeding," said NRDC Program Director Gregory Wetstone. "Lawmakers attached these special-interest provisions to spending bills with no public hearings, no debate and no votes. It’s undemocratic. We call on President-elect Bush to commit to aggressively opposing all environmentally destructive spending bill riders. Without that commitment, lawmakers are bound to attach even more onerous budget riders over the next year, posing a grave threat to America’s environmental safeguards."

NRDC’s analysis lists more than 70 environmentally damaging provisions that congressional budget negotiators attempted to insert in bills to fund the federal government budget, including riders undermining key programs under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Food Quality Protection Act, the Superfund law, the National Forest Management Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Act. While leaving our environmental laws technically in place, the provisions would have denied federal agencies authority to spend taxpayer dollars to carry out and enforce these crucial laws.

"The breadth of the scope of riders since 1994 is horrifying," said NRDC Legislative Director Alyssondra Campaigne. "They include attacks on virtually every major environmental statute. Fortunately, President Clinton was able to block most of the egregious riders, but they could resurface again -- along with hundreds more -- if George W. Bush does not pledge to oppose these stealthy attacks on the environment."